Rent

( 45 )

Overview

In these pages, Rent offers what most theater books can't: a chance to step behind the curtain and feel the electricity of a stage phenomenon as it unfolds.

Rent has single-handedly reinvigorated Broadway and taken America by storm. Sweeping all major theater awards, including the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for drama, as well as four 1996 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Score for a Musical, Rent captures the heart and spirit of a generation, refleting it onstage...

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Overview

In these pages, Rent offers what most theater books can't: a chance to step behind the curtain and feel the electricity of a stage phenomenon as it unfolds.

Rent has single-handedly reinvigorated Broadway and taken America by storm. Sweeping all major theater awards, including the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for drama, as well as four 1996 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Book, and Best Score for a Musical, Rent captures the heart and spirit of a generation, refleting it onstage through the emotion of its stirring words and music, and the energy of its young cast. Now, for the first time, Rent comes to life on the page — through vivid color photographs, the full libretto, and an utterly compelling behind-the-scenes oral history of the show's creation. Here is the exclusive and absolutely complete companion to Rent, told in the voices of the extraordinary talent behind its success: the actors, the director, the producers, and the librettist and composer himself, Jonathan Larson, whose sudden death, on the eve of the first performance, has made Rent's life-affirming message all the more poignant.

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Editorial Reviews

Time
The most exuberant and original American musical to come along this decade.
Newsweek
Rent is the breakthrough musical for the 90's.
Richard N. Bolles
Anne Fisher's new book is wonderfully fascinating and helpful. Her wisdom, balance, broad perspective, knowledge of statistics, interviews with employers, and sensitivity to real questions from the workplace, make this book a treasure.
Tom Peters
I've worked for myself, mostly happily, for the last 20 years. So I don't need ‘career advice'. Yet I always go first to ‘Ask Annie' when I pick up the latest issue of Fortune. Anne Fisher is a wise human being and a heck of a writer-communicator. This is a very special book. For all of us!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688154370
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/28/1997
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 245,380
  • Product dimensions: 9.42 (w) x 13.85 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Larson won the Pulitzer Prize for Rent, as well as Tony Awards for Best Book, Best Lyrics, and Best Musical, three Drama Desk Awards and numerous others. His "overnight success" came after fifteen years of writing, composing, and performing. He wrote the musical Superbia and the rock monologue tick, tick...BOOM! and composed a variety of music for children, including songs for "Sesame Street," audio books, and the video Away We Go! Mr. Larson died unexpectedly of an aortic aneurysm on January 25, 1996, the night before Rent's first performance. He was thirty-five.

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Read an Excerpt

Creation



"How do you document real life, when real life's getting more like fiction each day," Mark, the filmmaker narrator of Rent, asks at the start of the show's title song. It's one of many frighteningly prophetic lines playwright Jonathan Larson wrote before he died suddenly of an aortic aneurysm at age thirty-five — and before his show became the biggest theater story in two decades. Larson's death and Rent's subsequent success are such epic tales of tragedy and triumph that it's no wonder they've already taken on mythic stature. "If we had written that scene together, of him dying at that point, I would never have let him put it in," says Eddie Rosenstein, himself a filmmaker, and one of the playwright's best friends. "It was perfect Jonathan: he was always over the top that way. Dramatically, it made sense. The dramatic question of his life was over."

The story of Rent has a strange trajectory. For seven years, Larson, a talented playwright, composer and pianist who was eager to remake the American musical and hungry for a career breakthrough, had worked on an update of the opera La Boheme, relocating Giacomo Puccini's tale of Parisian artists to New York City's East Village. The off-Broadway production of Rent was scheduled to go into previews January 25, 1996, at New York Theatre Workshop. The night before, at the final dress rehearsal, the play received a standing ovation. Larson then went home, put a pot of water on the stove for tea, collapsed and died alone on the floor of his apartment. Two weeks later, Rent opened to phenomenal acclaim. Within three months, the show moved to Broadway, its youngcast became stars and Larson won a posthumous Pulitzer Prize. Rent swept the theater awards that spring, including the Tonys; the cast recording was nominated for a Grammy; and a film is in the works. Rent not only invigorated the moribund Broadway musical form; it offered a testament to lives lived on the edges of creation and death — a testament that struck a chord with thousands.

To those who discover Rent by being excited and moved by the performance, or by the CD or even by this book, Jonathan Larson's life is the finite chapter within the show's ongoing story. But for those who knew him, his absence is a painful reminder of a career that should still be evolving, works never seen that must be unfolding in some parallel universe. As Jonathan's friend Ann Egan says, "For us, when Rent began, Jonathan ended. For the actors, Rent catapulted their careers, and now they're bigger stars than Jonathan ever was in his lifetime." Rent is a moving show that has changed the lives of many of its participants and fans. Hopefully this book conveys some of that joyous, transforming spirit. Yet after talking to people who knew Jonathan and witnessing their sadness and anger, it's hard not to think of this story as, ultimately, a tragedy. "As you wander on through life Bud, whatever be goal/Keep your eye upon the donut, and not upon the hole." Jonathan's father, Al Larson, used to tell his children, quoting an old advertising slogan. Talk to Al now and he'll say, shaking his head, "Rent and its success to the world can be a consolation for the fact that Jonathan is not here, but as a parent, if I had a choice. I'd dump the whole thing and take Jonathan."

"The opposite of war isn't peace, it's creation," Mark sings in"La Vie Boheme." One of Jonathan's missions while writing was to celebrate art and art-makers. "Rent also exalts 'Otherness,' glorifying artists and counterculture as necessary to a healthy civilization," he wrote in a 1992 statement of concept. The production of his play gathered together a group of people who embodied the creative spirit. "Jonathan spoke eloquently about demons and fears surrounding creativity," says Mark Setlock, who played Angel in the 1994 workshop production of Rent and understudies on Broadway. "He speaks volumes to anyone who wants to make it as an artist in this society."

That faith in creative work helped drive the writers of this book.We never met Jonathan Larson. He's the hole in the donut we hadto write around, which is why we interviewed more than seventypeople, trying to capture as many curves as possible. This story ofRent's creation is told in a Rashomon chorus of voices, as Al Larsonputs it, where every point of view reveals the speaker as well as thesubject. For Jonathan's voice, we're left with a few randomquotes — and of course, the show's libretto. In it you'll find the bursting-with-love belief in life that characterized Jonathan Larson to those who knew him, and this gift to the rest of us known as Rent.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 45 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Fantastic for fans of Rent!

    Any fan of Rent the musical will love this book. It gives a lot of background and behind-the-scenes information about how Rent came to be. It also includes the full libretto of the show.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2008

    rent in phenominal

    i love the show rent. it has ALWAYS been one of my favorites. for all rentheads out there beware, see the show on its oringinal stage one last time on june,1 they will closing it down. they will, however, continue touring around the world. but come show your pride for rent!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2007

    A MUST for any Broadway collector

    Truly, this is one of the greatest things I have ever owned. You only think you know everything about Rent until you've read this book. It is truly amazing, and inspiring. Kudos to the many who put it together. This has shown me an amazing scope into the life and death of Jonathan Larson, and as a fan, I wish I could tell him thank you. This book is something any Renthead should not be without.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2007

    I love this book!

    If you are a RENT fan, a fan for years, or a new fan, I'd say this book is worth your money! It has excellent photography's, some RENT history, and a libertto. This is worth your money, you'll love it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2006

    The Rent Bible is a must have for everyone

    This book is honestly my most prized possetion. It has everything anyone who likes rent needs to know including the libretto. Even for non Rent fans, the story is just so touching and sad and I honestly can't think of anyone i would not reccomend this to.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2005

    The Rent Bible

    the rent bible is a must for all rentheads in the world. period.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2005

    My prized possession

    I cherish this book. I fell in love with the show 3 years ago, have seen it many times since then, and finally decided to buy this bible. I don't know how I survived without it. Jonathan Larson was a truly amazing and gifted man, performer, writer, and this book really tells of his story, has great pictures, and includes the full libretto. So why are you still sitting there reading this? Go and buy this book now!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2005

    A must have for anybody

    I've never seen the actual show myself, and that in itself proves that this is a remarkable book. It not only describes in detail the struggles that Jonathan Larson had in writing RENT, it shows his life story and exactly where RENT came from, which is itself a remarkable story. RENT is awe-inspiring, but this book is also a gem to have on its own.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2004

    A renthead's review

    This is an outstanding book for a true Broadway fan, and especially a dedicated RENT fan and renthead. From the first time you open the cover of the book you are drawn into the world that we now know of as RENT. You will learn the journey of Jonathan Larson and of his dream of changing the American musical. You will learn how he took many of his own life experiences and transformed them into the storyline of the musical. You will learn the highs and lows of the show, and the untimely death of Jonathan Larson on the eve of the opening of RENT. Also included is a synopsis of the show, including all lines and song lyrics. I first purchased this book the first time I saw RENT, and even though it might look big, bulky, and maybe even a tad bit expensive, you will walk away knowing that you just purchased a bit of history, renthead history that is.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2003

    My Bible

    This is my Bible. It is for ultimate rentheads. If you like Rent, you HAVE TO get this book!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2002

    the bible for all rentheads

    if you know rent then you know the name "rentheads" applys to rent's greatest fans; you know the people you see outside the box office in tents at 4 am to get 20 dollar rush tickets to that nights performance. The color pictures of the Original Broadway Cast are breathtaking. Accounts of RENT's rise to the broadway stage directly quoted from those that were there from day one. And the tragic story of Jonathan Larson, the creator. I highly reccomend this book to any RENT or broadway lover.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2002

    I LOVE RENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    RENT is the best! This book is the best. It is of the premiere on Broadway with people talking about Jonathat Larson such as Stephen Soundheim, Jonathan's family, the two stars of RENT, Adam Pascal (Roger) and Daphne Rubin-Vega (Mimi), and many others. It also includes the full libretto with beautiful color pictures. It is great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 7, 2002

    best book ever

    I love this book so much. It's so interesting to know more about the genius that wrote this amazing show. i'm extreamly interested in Johnathan Larson's story but also saddened by it. I wish he knew the impact his show has had on the world.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2001

    Best Rent book ever

    This is a definate must have for any true RENT follower. You can learn how RENT came to be and begin to understand the emotions behind Jonathan Larson's smash hit, RENT.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2000

    All You Could Want and More

    This book not only describes the play perfectly, but gives great insight into the life of Jonathon Larson. It has great photography, and the libretto makes things a lot easier to understand. I recommend it for people who have never seen the show, or have seen it 10 times. It's great!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2000

    RENT and it's creators - What else do you need?

    This book make the show and everything behind it that much more meaningful. The people who have already written reviews for it, have said basically everything I would say about the book, but these are my thoughts on the play: Despite all the waiting it took for me to see it, I finally saw the most exceptional show ever ~ Rent. I do not think I will ever forget those three wonderful hours of my life. First, I would just like to thank Jonathan Larson. You wrote the one most incredible thing I have ever seen, heard, or thought about ever. I wish we did not have to lose you, your talents, or your insights on life. Second, I would like to thank not only the cast and crew of the production I saw or the one on the CD I listen to, but to every cast and crew who have ever performed the show. You bring Jonathan Larson to life every time you perform the show. That is absolutely extraordinary. I was completely blown away by this show. It is beyond anything I could ever imagine. All though this little tribute doesn't even start to describe what I felt that night, or still feel now, I hope this shows a little bit of the passion I have for this show.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2000

    The best Play, with a great book, too!

    This book is absolutely necessary for any RENT fan... it explains the somewhat complicated making of RENT as well as the life of The Creator, Jonathon Larson, and how this wonderful musical came about because of his dream, and a bunch of other people who gave hime a lot of help and support. If you've seen the play... buy it, if you haven't, buy it (and the CD,to get the effect). And if you are a RENT head like me, and haven't seen the play... make every effort, beg, save your money, and beg some more. YOU must get there!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2000

    RENT ROCKS

    I have loved the rock opera RENT for over a year; I am totally obssesed with it. When my parents got this book for my twin sister and me I was ecstatic. It was a wonderful Hannukah gift. It is not only the offical companion of the play but MY offical companion, I carry it to school everyday. It is my best sorce of information on RENT; I have learned so much about the creation of the play and, what is more, the creator!!! I have been fasinated by Jonathan Larson for a long time, I see him as an artistic genius. I fantisise about meeting him, but it is impossible; he died on opening night, at the age of 35. RENT is his legacy; it is what he left behind and it speaks for him. This book gave me a chance to get to know my idle better. It has everything about Jonathan Larson and RENT from pictures of him as a kid to the lebretto (which also has pictures) to a picture of him taken only hours before his untimly death. One of the characteristics that I enjoy most about this book is that it tells its story almost completly through quotes. Because of this trait a person doesn't have to wonder if the story that he or she is reading is true and not warped, because the person telling it was either there or heard the story first hand. The people who speak in this book include Jonathan Larson's friends and family, the Original Broadway Caste, and other people involved in the play. This book will give a person insite into the play and Jonathan Larson's life and personality. If you have never heard of RENT get this book!! If you, like me, worship the play then get this book!! If you know somebody who loves RENT it is the perfect present (make sure that he or she doesn't already have it before you buy the book). You can't call youself a RENTHEAD if you don't own it. Don't just listen to my poorly written (and spelled) review, order this book!!! You won't be sorry.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2000

    very intreresting

    I thought it was a wonderful book depicting the life and work of johnathan Larson, as related to RENT.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2000

    RENT...its just awesome

    This book provides everything you need to know about RENT. It shows where the concept comes from and basic things from Jonathan's life. It also has the whole script and many pictures from the original cast. Trust me if you like RENT at all you will love this book!

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews

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